As high CO2-emitting utilities and other industries move toward implementing carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies to manage greenhouse gas emissions, more and more CO2 will become available as a resource for multiple applications. CO2 will be a plentiful potential feedstock (carbon source) for many products, including commercial chemicals, plastics, and improved cement. Unfortunately, CO2 is a stable compound with a low energy state and does not readily participate in chemical reactions without added energy. Additionally, the supply of CO2 that may be available as the USA moves toward a carbon-constrained economy far exceeds the current demand for CO2 as a commodity chemical. Thus, identifying candidate chemistries and economically feasible approaches that utilize large amounts of CO2 as a feedstock for high-demand products is very challenging.
The United States Department of Energy (DOE), through its National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), has an active carbon sequestration program. The goal of the CO2 Utilization Focus Area is to identify and develop a suite of technologies that can beneficially use CO2 to produce useful products that can generate revenue to offset capture costs associated with CCS implementation, contribute to CO2 emissions reductions, and reduce the demand for petroleum based feedstocks and products. Currently, projects being supported fall into the categories of (i) enhanced hydrocarbon recovery, (ii) chemicals production, (iii) mineralization processes for building products, and (iv) plastics production. This perspective discusses the current status of CO2 use and presents a review of DOE's program to identify and demonstrate uses for captured CO2. © 2011 Society of Chemical Industry and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd